At some point in the last year or so, someone pegged me as an influential blogger… and then it started. A constant and never-ceasing stream of daily e-mails from various PR companies mindlessly clogging up my inbox. The volume has picked up substantially and is sometimes followed up with a phone call to check “if you’ve had a chance to read our release”.
No. I haven’t. And I won’t. I never asked to receive them in the first place. We don’t have any sort of a relationship. You don’t even know who I am or what I do, other then what’s in the “NAME” and “WEBSITE” field in your spreadsheet or CRM software.
Is this what modern PR is all about these days?
I am not alone…
I had a meeting today with a marketing manager of a software startup. They recently hired a PR firm to help them build an online presence. Reaching out to influential bloggers is part of that plan. Recently, while monitoring their mentions on various social media networks, they noticed a particular tweet which caught their eye. It said something like “I guess I’ll tweet about [the company] since their PR lady keeps pestering me”. Does that sound like a PR win to you?
It’s hurting your brand.
Not only are these efforts fruitless, but they could also be hurting your brand reputation in the eyes of the online public. Pestering bloggers with e-mails they haven’t opted into is just about the worst way I can think of to build a relationship. There is almost an instant loss of trust and who knows what kind of backlash may come of it.
Invest first. Withdraw later.
Your responsibility as a marketer, PR professional and as a human being is to establish some sort of a relationship and invest in it before expecting someone you don’t know to just do things for you. Yes, blogger outreach works… but not like this. If you are a marketing manager working with a PR firm, make sure they’re not just spamming innocent bystanders whose e-mails just happen to have gotten scraped from their websites. I would ask the company to provide proof (emails for example) that they have actually built relationships with those you wish to reach, or at least an assurance that this is standard practice.
If, on the other hand you are the marketer looking to build your online presence through blogger outreach, here are 7 ideas that will make your efforts that much more effective:
The right people – Don’t just trust a google search or an e-mail list. Make sure to visit each blog and make sure their brand aligns with yours.
Read – Make sure to read at least 10 – 15 of their posts to start with. You’ll get a feel for their tone and style of writing – and stack it up against your own brand and how you wish to be perceived.
Comment – Take some time and post meaningful replies on a few posts. This is the easiest way to become a known entity and warm up the introduction later on.
Follow – Most bloggers will be present on several social media networks. Follow them and get to know them there as well.
Subscribe – Most blogs will have a freely available RSS feed you can suscribe to. Alternatively, most blogs will offer you an opportunity to subscribe by e-mail. This way you’ll be notified of fresh content and can then look at ways of making the connection.
Introduce yourself – Before even thinking about putting their e-mail in your system make sure to introduce yourself, which by this time (after commenting and reading for a little while) should be a much warmer conversation.
Ask for permission – Only after you’ve made the connection and provided value in the form of retweeting their content or commenting on their blog, should you ASK for the permission to update them with RELEVANT releases.
If you’re able to do this with 6 to 10 bloggers who write within your industry or appeal to your target market, you’ve won at digital marketing. Sadly, very few brands follow this approach. This isn’t a game of numbers or a race for who will spam the most people, but rather a business of relationships. They take time to develop.
– Ernest // Follow me on Twitter